Using social media for work: Losing your time or improving your work?

My recent post about two studies carried out by IBM Research into the impact of social media on work performance resulted in a very substantial number of clicks onto this blog. At the time I thought that the IBM Research was unique, and incidentally so did the authors. However carrying out some research on a slightly different topic I found a paper with the above title in the journal Computers and Human Behavior, 31(2014), pp 132-144. The case study reported in the paper involved surveying 1799 employees in the Greek insurance industry. Although not as large scale as the IBM Research project the paper is especially interesting as it looks across a number of different companies.

The three themes of the research were

  • Do the employees of insurance industry make use of social media for work purposes?
  • What motivations (values) does someone have for using social media for work purposes?
  • Does the use of social media for work impact employees’ work performance?

Unlike the IBM study where performance was assessed on a reasonably rigorous and independent basis in this study the respondents were asked to assess improvements in their own performance. The authors, Ioannis Leftheriotis and Michail N. Giannakos, state that their results not only indicate that social media are not simply a waste of time for employees but they also significantly and positively impact the employees’ performance. Certainly the statistics support this statement but I don’t feel that the way the question was posed can be taken as a definitive view of employee performance.

Nevertheless there is much of interest in this paper, which includes the survey, a very detailed statistical analysis and a good bibliography. The authors report that they were  asked to undertake the study the following year by the Greek National Institute for Insurance Studies, which supported the research, and hopefully the results will be published in due course. Taken with the IBM research it certainly supports the view that there is no negative impact on performance, but the extent of the positive impact still remains a somewhat open issue. If you want to read the paper in full you can find it indexed in ResearchGate by Google Scholar

Martin White